First Word--August 2005

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My first experience with a Harley-Davidson caused me some pain. On a photo shoot two years ago, I thought I'd help our photographer get the bike in position when my bare knee met the engine. I now know motorcycles have engines, and they don't have windshield wipers (what a novice!).

So when the biker in my life asked if I'd be interested in a ride, I must admit my initial hesitation. Smartly, we rode through Manhattan my first time (it's been said if you can drive in Manhattan you can pretty much drive anywhere). While I don't make a habit of being the backseat rider, I now must admit my awe. There's something about the roar of the engine, the sheer sight of a motorcycle (Harley-Davidson or not) that makes heads turn in fascination...and commands respect. When parked, there's always someone on the sidelines who knows someone with a motorcycle, wants to own a motorcycle, or is a rider. An enthusiasm...a camaraderie.

What interests me most about the real riders we used to pay tribute to Harley-Davidson this issue is that they are not the "stereotype." They are New York and New Jersey residents who come from varied backgrounds and incomes—a high school English teacher, an NYPD detective, a Wall Street trader, a store owner, a salesman, a retiree. I'd like to express my sincere thanks to all of them—Mike, Steven, Paul, Al, Albie, and Butchy—who spent the day with our team for this photo opportunity. (So, does riding now make me an Editor-in-Chief Biker Babe?)

My initial thoughts about Harley-Davidson riders and enthusiasts were confirmed while interviewing Harley-Davidson executives and longtime licensing agency The Beanstalk Group. As you'll learn from the story, which begins, Harley-Davidson's target consumer demographics are widespread, not only geographically (as Harley-Davidson is a global brand). Consumers range from the real rider to the enthusiast who craves the Harley-Davidson lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle is freedom. All the real riders claim freedom and adventure as some of the power to riding. And although some of our real riders have owned other motorcycle brands (and still own others besides Harley-Davidson), they believe Harley-Davidson is an American brand, an attribute that's hard to deny and one that aids the brand's equity. Many thanks to Harley-Davidson for supplying much of the riding gear worn by our real riders.

It's that time of year again...MAGIC Marketplace, being held August 29 through September 1. Inside this issue, you'll also find our Xtension supplement with all the fashion trends to watch in young men's, junior girls', and children's for spring 2006 and fall 2006/2007. I hope to see you there.

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